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Walk against violence is a stride toward a healthier community

The violence in Carlton County and this area of Northeastern Minnesota has escalated at an alarming rate lately. Not only has the number of crimes increased, but the degree of violence has intensified dramatically, fueled by drug use and gang act...

The violence in Carlton County and this area of Northeastern Minnesota has escalated at an alarming rate lately. Not only has the number of crimes increased, but the degree of violence has intensified dramatically, fueled by drug use and gang activity.

And while some are tempted to point the finger of responsibility toward the Fond du Lac Reservation - the backdrop of much of the recent violence - we are burying our heads in the sand if we think it ends there.

Drug use and violence have long been a community problem, and even with the supposedly gang-related crimes of recent weeks, none of us can afford to think we don't have to be part of the solution.

Only days after the discovery of a 25-year-old woman's body west of Cloquet recently, a group of residents of the Fond du Lac Reservation held a "Take Back Our Reservation" walk to make a very public statement that they weren't going to settle for becoming victims of drug use and violence. And while the turnout was respectable and opened the door for subsequent community discussions, the gesture stopped short of reaching the scope it needs to succeed.

This Saturday, Oct. 27, there is a Walk Against Drugs and Violence planned for 8 a.m. at Veterans Park. An offshoot of the earlier walk on the reservation, this one is a gesture toward "Taking Back Our Community" - acknowledging that all of us need to come together and show our support for raising community awareness that drugs and violence will not be tolerated.

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"The drugs have continued to escalate in our community and consumed many of our youth," stated organizer Bettina Johnsen. "We want more people to be involved - the entire community, not just the reservation. It's a problem in our entire region."

Think you'd rather sleep in on a Saturday morning? Tempted to turn your nose up on yet another "walk" that never goes anywhere? Think just one person couldn't possibly make a difference?

Stop and think what your children's world will be like if drugs and violence continue to increase at the rate they are right now. Round up the kids, round up the whole family - show up on Saturday and take that first step toward turning things around. It has to start somewhere.

Wendy Johnson

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTYOUR VIEW
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